End of August wonkery and opinion.
More expert observation in millwx's diary.
The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment — at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.
Now it’s happening again — except that this time it’s even worse. Let’s turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: "Imam Hussein Obama," he recently declared, is "probably the best anti-American president we’ve ever had."
WaPo on the Green movement:
A year ago, groups seemed at the peak of their influence. Now struggling, they are trying two strategies: defiance and desperation...
A year ago, these groups seemed to be at the peak of their influence, needing only the Senate's approval for a landmark climate-change bill. But they lost that fight, done in by the sluggish economy and opposition from business and fossil-fuel interests.
Losing the battle, but not the war. There's a new generation that "gets it", and the recession won't last forever (it just seems like it will.)
For a weekend, at least, Beck proved that he can conjure the thrill of a culture war without the costs of combat, and the solidarity of identity politics without any actual politics. If his influence outlasts the current election cycle, this will be the secret of his success.
Why would anyone think a culture war is thrilling? There's something fundamentally wrong with that.
But Obama and his party are also in a hole because the president has chosen not to engage the nation in an extended dialogue about what holds all of his achievements together, or why his attitude toward government makes more sense than the scattershot conservative attacks on everything Washington might do to improve the nation's lot...
Obama's mistake is captured by that disdainful reference to "politicking." In a democracy, separating governing from "politicking" is impossible. "Politicking" is nothing less than the ongoing effort to convince free citizens of the merits of a set of ideas, policies and decisions. Voters feel better about politicians who put what they are doing in a compelling context. Citizens can endure setbacks as long as they believe the overall direction of the government's approach is right.
Robert J. Samuelson:
Why is the recovery faltering? There are many explanations: a depressed housing market; weaker-than-expected exports; cautious corporations. But consumers, representing 70 percent of the economy's $14.5 trillion of spending, are the crux of the matter.
It isn't that Americans aren't behaving as anticipated. They may actually be outperforming. "Consumers are deleveraging (reducing debt) . . . and rebuilding saving faster than expected," writes economist Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley...
If Berner's right, the worst is over. He expects consumption to grow 2 to 2.5 percent annually, propelling a steady -- if unspectacular -- recovery. Indeed, consumption spending grew at a 2 percent annual rate in the second quarter. Berner forecasts unemployment to decline slowly to about 9 percent by year-end 2011.
Good news or excuse to do nothing?